MicroMo Electronics, Inc.

14881 Evergreen Ave Clearwater, FL 33762-3008
Tel: (727) 572-0131 | Toll Free: (800) 807-9166 | Fax: (727) 572-7763
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© 2007 MicroMo Electronics, Inc.

Motor Calculations
• Calculating Mechanical Power Requirements
• Torque - Speed Curves
• Numerical Calculation
• Sample Calculation
• Thermal Calculations

Calculating Mechanical Power Requirements
Physically, power is defined as the rate of doing work. For linear motion, power is the
product of force multiplied by the distance per unit time. In the case of rotational motion, the
analogous calculation for power is the product of torque multiplied by the rotational distance per
unit time.
= M P
rot

Where:
Prot = rotational mechanical power
M = torque
= angular velocity

The most commonly used unit for angular velocity is rev/min (RPM). In calculating
rotational power, it is necessary to convert the velocity to units of rad/sec. This is accomplished
by simply multiplying the velocity in RPM by the constant (2 x ) /60:

|
!
\
|
\
(
× =
60
2
sec /
¬
c c
rpm rad


It is important to consider the units involved when making the power calculation. A reference that
provides conversion tables is very helpful for this purpose. Such a reference is used to convert
the torque-speed product to units of power (Watts). Conversion factors for commonly used torque
and speed units are given in the following table. These factors include the conversion from RPM
to rad/sec where applicable.

Torque Units Units Speed Conversion Factor
oz-in RPM 0.00074
oz-in rad/sec 0.0071
in-lb RPM 0.0118
in-lb rad/sec 0.1130
ft-lb RPM 0.1420
ft-lb rad/sec 1.3558
N-m RPM 0.1047
N-m rad/sec 1.0002

For example, assume that it is necessary to determine the power required to drive a
torque load of 3 oz-in at a speed of 500 RPM. The product of the torque, speed, and the
appropriate conversion factor from the table is:

3oz-in x 500rpm x 0.00074 = 1.11 Watts


MicroMo Electronics, Inc.
14881 Evergreen Ave Clearwater, FL 33762-3008
Tel: (727) 572-0131 | Toll Free: (800) 807-9166 | Fax: (727) 572-7763
e-mail: info@micromo.com Web: www.micromo.com
© 2007 MicroMo Electronics, Inc.


Calculation of power requirements is often used as a preliminary step in motor or gearmotor
selection. If the mechanical power required for a given application is known, then the maximum or
continuous power ratings for various motors can be examined to determine which motors are
possible candidates for use in the application.
Torque - Speed Curves

One commonly used method of displaying motor characteristics graphically is the use of
torque – speed curves. While the use of torque - speed curves is much more common in
technical literature for larger DC machines than it is for small, ironless core devices, the technique
is applicable in either case. Torque – speed curves are generated by plotting motor speed,
armature current, mechanical output power, and efficiency as functions of the motor torque. The
following discussion will describe the construction of a set of torque – speed curves for a typical
DC motor from a series of raw data measurements. Motor M2232U12G is used as an
example.
Assume that we have a small motor that we know has a nominal voltage of 12 volts. With
a few fundamental pieces of laboratory equipment, the torque - speed curves for the motor can
be generated:

Step One (measure basic parameters):
Using a voltage supply set to 9 volts, run the motor unloaded and measure the rotational
speed using a non-contacting tachometer (strobe, for instance). Measure the motor current under
this no-load condition. A current probe is ideal for this measurement since it does not add
resistance in series with the operating motor. Using an adjustable torque load such as a small
particle brake coupled to the motor shaft; increase the torque load to the motor just to the point
where stall occurs. At stall, measure the torque from the brake and the motor current. For the
sake of this discussion, assume that the coupling adds no load to the motor and that the load
from the brake does not include unknown frictional components. It is also useful at this point to
measure the terminal resistance of the motor. Measure the resistance by contacting the mot or
terminals. Then spin the motor shaft and take another measurement. The measurements should
be very close in value. Continue to spin the shaft and take at least three measurements. This will
ensure that the measurements were not taken at a point of minimum contact on the commutator.
Now we have measured the:
• n0= no-load speed
• I0= no-load current
• MH= stall torque
• R= terminal resistance

Step Two (plot current vs. torque and speed vs torque)
Prepare a graph with motor torque on the horizontal axis, motor speed on the left vertical
axis, and motor current on the right vertical axis. Scale the axes based on the measurements in
step 1. Draw a straight line from the left origin of the graph (zero torque and zero current) to the
stall current on the right vertical axis (stall torque and stall current). This line represents a plot of
the motor current as a function of the motor torque. The slope of this line is the proportionality
constant for the relationship between motor current and motor torque (in units of current per unit
torque). The reciprocal of this slope is the torque constant of the motor (in units of torque per unit
current). For the resulting curves see Graph 1.
Using the relationships between motor constants discussed earlier, calculate the velocity
constant of the motor from the torque constant obtained above. By multiplying the velocity
constant by the nominal motor voltage, obtain the theoretical no-load speed of the motor (zero


MicroMo Electronics, Inc.
14881 Evergreen Ave Clearwater, FL 33762-3008
Tel: (727) 572-0131 | Toll Free: (800) 807-9166 | Fax: (727) 572-7763
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© 2007 MicroMo Electronics, Inc.

torque and no-load speed) and plot it on the left vertical axis. Draw a straight line between this
point and the stall torque and zero speed point on the graph. The slope of this line is the
proportionality constant for the relationship between motor speed and motor torque (in units of
speed per unit torque). The slope of the line is negative, indicating that motor speed decreases
with increasing torque. This value is sometimes called the regulation constant of the motor. For
the resulting curves see Graph 1.
For the purpose of this discussion, it will be assumed that the motor has no internal
friction. In practice, the motor friction torque is determined using the torque constant of the motor
and the measured no-load current. The torque vs speed line and the torque vs current line are
then started not at the left vertical axis but at an offset on the horizontal axis equal to the
calculated friction torque.

Step Three (plot power vs torque and efficiency vs torque)
In most cases, two additional vertical axes are added for plotting power and efficiency as
functions of torque. A second left vertical axis is usually used for efficiency and a second right
vertical axis is used for power. For the sake of simplifying this discussion, efficiency vs. torque
and power vs. torque will be plotted on a second graph separate from the speed vs. torque and
current vs. torque plots.
Construct a table of the motor mechanical power at various points from no-load to stall
torque. Since mechanical power output is simply the product of torque and speed with a
correction factor for units (see section on calculating mechanical power requirements), power can
be calculated using the previously plotted line for speed vs. torque. A sample table of calculations
for motor M2232U12G is shown in Table 1. Each calculated point is then plotted. The resulting
curve is a parabolic curve as shown in Graph 1. The maximum mechanical power occurs at
approximately one-half of the stall torque. The speed at this point is approximately one-half of the
no-load speed.
Construct a table of the motor efficiency at various points from no-load to stall torque.
The voltage applied to the motor is given, and the current at various levels of torque has been
plotted. The product of the motor current and the applied voltage is the power input to the motor.
At each point selected for calculation, the efficiency of the motor is the mechanical power output
divided by the electrical power input. Once again, a sample table for motor M2232U12G is shown
in Table 1. and a sample curve in Graph 1. Maximum efficiency occurs at about 10% of the motor
stall torque.

Table 1.
TORQUE SPEED CURRENT POWER EFFICIENCY
(oz-in) (rpm) (mA) (Watts) (%)
--------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- ----------------
0.000 8400 60 0.000 0
0.124 8064 124 0.740 50
0.248 7728 189 1.419 63
0.372 7392 253 2.036 67
0.497 7056 317 2.591 68
0.621 6720 381 3.085 67
0.745 6384 446 3.517 66
0.869 6048 510 3.887 64
0.993 5712 574 4.195 61
1.117 5376 638 4.442 58
1.242 5040 703 4.627 55
1.366 4704 767 4.751 52


MicroMo Electronics, Inc.
14881 Evergreen Ave Clearwater, FL 33762-3008
Tel: (727) 572-0131 | Toll Free: (800) 807-9166 | Fax: (727) 572-7763
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© 2007 MicroMo Electronics, Inc.

1.490 4368 831 4.812 48
1.614 4032 895 4.812 45
1.738 3696 960 4.751 41
1.862 3360 1024 4.627 38
1.986 3024 1088 4.442 34
2.111 2688 1153 4.195 30
2.235 2352 1217 3.887 27
2.359 2016 1281 3.517 23
2.483 1680 1345 3.085 19
2.607 1344 1410 2.591 15
2.731 1008 1474 2.036 12
2.855 672 1538 1.419 8
2.980 336 1602 0.740 4
Graph 1.

900
1800
2700
3600
4500
5400
6300
7200
8100
9000 rpm
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100 %
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10 W
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10 A
0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 5
oz-in




Numerical Calculation

For an iron core, DC motor of relatively small size, the relationships that govern the
behavior of the motor in various circumstances can be derived from physical laws and
characteristics of the motors themselves. Kirchoff's voltage rule states, "The sum of the potential
increases in a circuit loop must equal the sum of the potential decreases." When applied to a DC
motor connected in series with a DC power source, Kirchoff's voltage rule can be expressed as
"The nominal supply voltage from the power source must be equal in magnitude to the sum of the
voltage drop across the resistance of the armature windings and the back EMF generated by the
motor.":
( )
e O
V R I V + =


MicroMo Electronics, Inc.
14881 Evergreen Ave Clearwater, FL 33762-3008
Tel: (727) 572-0131 | Toll Free: (800) 807-9166 | Fax: (727) 572-7763
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© 2007 MicroMo Electronics, Inc.


Where:
Vo = Power supply (Volts)
I = Current (A)
R = Terminal Resistance (Ohms)
Ve = Back EMF (Volts)

The back EMF generated by the motor is directly proportional to the angular velocity of
the motor. The proportionality constant is the back EMF constant of the motor.
e e
k V =
Where:
= angular velocity of the motor
k
e
= back EMF constant of the motor




Therefore, by substitution:
( ) ( )
e O
k R I V + =

The back EMF constant of the motor is usually specified by the motor manufacturer in
volts/RPM or mV/RPM. In order to arrive at a meaningful value for the back EMF, it is necessary
to specify the motor velocity in units compatible with the specified back EMF constant. The motor
constant is a function of the coil design and the strength and direction of the flux lines in the air
gap. Although it can be shown that the three motor constants normally specified (back EMF
constant, torque constant, and velocity constant) are equal if the proper units are used,
calculation is facilitated by the specification of three constants in the commonly accepted units.
The torque produced by the rotor is directly proportional to the current in the armature windings.
The proportionality constant is the torque constant of the motor.

M O
k I M =
Where:
Mo = torque developed at rotor
kM = motor torque constant

Substituting this relationship:
( )
( )
e
M
k
k
R M
V +

=

The torque developed at the rotor is equal to the friction torque of the motor plus the
resisting torque due to external mechanical loading:

f l O
M M M + =
Where:
Mf = motor friction torque
Ml = load torque



MicroMo Electronics, Inc.
14881 Evergreen Ave Clearwater, FL 33762-3008
Tel: (727) 572-0131 | Toll Free: (800) 807-9166 | Fax: (727) 572-7763
e-mail: info@micromo.com Web: www.micromo.com
© 2007 MicroMo Electronics, Inc.

Assuming that a constant voltage is applied to the motor terminals, the motor velocity will
be directly proportional to sum of the friction torque and the load torque. The constant of
proportionality is the slope of the torque-speed curve and can be calculated by:
H O
M n M n / / =
Where:
MH = stall torque
n0= no-load speed

An alternative approach to deriving this value is to solve for velocity, n:

( )
e M e
O
k k
M
k
V
n

=

Differentiating both sides with respect to M yields:

( )
e M
k k
R
M
n

=

Using dimensional analysis to check units, the result is:
-Ohms/(oz-in/A) x (V/RPM) = -Ohm-A-RPM/V-oz-in = -RPM/oz-in
It is a negative value describing loss of velocity as a function of increased torsional load.


Sample Calculation

Motor M2232U12G is to be operated with 12 volts applied to the motor terminals. The torque load
is 0.2 ozin. Find the resulting motor speed, motor current, efficiency, and mechanical power
output. From the motor data sheet, it can be seen that the no-load speed of the motor at 12 volts
is 8400 rpm. If the torque load is not coupled to the motor shaft, the motor would run at this speed.
The motor speed under load is simply the no-load speed less the reduction in speed due
to the load. The proportionality constant for the relationship between motor speed and motor
torque is the slope of the torque vs. speed curve, given by the motor no-load speed divided by the
stall torque. In this example, the speed reduction caused by the 0.2 oz -in torque load is:

0.2 oz-in x (8400 rpm/3.1 oz-in) = -542 rpm

The motor speed under load must then be:

8400 rpm - 542 rpm = 7858 rpm

The motor current under load is the sum of the no-load current and the current resulting
from the load. The proportionality constant relating current to torque load is the torque constant
(kM), in this case, 1.86 oz -in/A. In this case, the load torque is 0.2 oz-in, and the current resulting
from the load must be:

I = 0.2 oz-in x 1 amp/1.86 oz -in = 108 mA



MicroMo Electronics, Inc.
14881 Evergreen Ave Clearwater, FL 33762-3008
Tel: (727) 572-0131 | Toll Free: (800) 807-9166 | Fax: (727) 572-7763
e-mail: info@micromo.com Web: www.micromo.com
© 2007 MicroMo Electronics, Inc.

The total motor current must be the sum of this value and the motor no-load current. The data
sheet lists the motor no-load current as 60 mA. Therefore, the total current is:

108 mA + 60 mA = 168 mA

The mechanical power output of the motor is simply the product of the motor speed and the
torque load with a correction factor for units (if required). Therefore, the mechanical power output
of the motor in this application is:

output power = 0.2 oz-in x 7858 rpm x .00074 = 1.16 Watts

The mechanical power input to the motor is the product of the applied voltage and the total motor
current in Amps. In this application:

input power = 12 volts x .168 A = 2.02 Watts

Since efficiency is simply power out divided by power in, the efficiency in this application is:

efficiency = 1.16 Watts / 2.02 Watts = .57 = 57%

Thermal Calculations

A current I flowing through a resistance R results in a power loss as heat of I
2
R. In the
case of a DC motor, the product of the square of the total motor current and the armature
resistance is the power loss as heat in the armature windings. For example, if the total motor
current was .168 A and the armature resistance 7.2 Ohms the power lost as heat in the windings
is:
power loss = .168
2
x 7.2 = .203 Watts

The heat resulting from I2R losses in the coil is dissipated by conduction through motor
components and airflow in the air gap. The ease with which this heat can be dissipated is a
function of the motor type and construction. Motor manufacturers typically provide an indication
of the motor’s ability to dissipate heat by providing thermal resistance values. Thermal resistance
is a measure of the resistance to the passage of heat through a given thermal path. A large cross
section aluminum plate would have a very low thermal resistance, for example, while the values
for air or a vacuum would be considerably higher. In the case of DC motors, there is a thermal
path from the motor windings to the motor case and a second between the motor case and the
motor environment (ambient air, etc.). Some motor manufacturers specify a thermal resistance for
each of the two thermal paths while others specify only the sum of the two as the total thermal
resistance of the motor. Thermal resistance values are specified in temperature increase per unit
power loss. The total I
2
R losses in the coil (the heat source) are multiplied by thermal resistances
to determine the steady state armature temperature. The steady state temperature increase of
the motor (T) is given by:

( )
2 1
2
th th inc
R R R I T + =
Where:
Tinc = temperature increase
I = current through motor windings
R = resistance of motor windings


MicroMo Electronics, Inc.
14881 Evergreen Ave Clearwater, FL 33762-3008
Tel: (727) 572-0131 | Toll Free: (800) 807-9166 | Fax: (727) 572-7763
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© 2007 MicroMo Electronics, Inc.

Rth1 = thermal resistance from windings to case
Rth2 = thermal resistance case to ambient

For example, a M2232U12G motor running with a current of 0.203 Amps in the motor
windings, with an armature resistance of 7.2 Ohms, a winding-to-case thermal resistance of
17 °C/Watt, and a case-to-ambient thermal resistance of 22 °C/Watt. The temperature increase of
the windings is given by:

T = .168
2
x 7.2 x (17 + 22) = 7.9°C

If it is assumed that the ambient air temperature is 22°C, then the final temperature of the
motor windings is 29.9°C (22°+ 7.9°).
It is important to be certain that the final temperature of the windings does not exceed
their rated value. In the example given above, the maximum permissible winding temperature is
120°C. Since the calculated winding temperature is only 29.9°C, thermal damage to the motor
windings will not be a problem in this application. One could use similar calculations to answer a
different kind of question. For example, an application may require that a motor run at its
maximum torque without being damaged by heating. To continue with the example given
above, suppose it is desired to run motor M2232U12G at the maximum possible torque with an
ambient air temperature of 22°C. The designer wants to know how much torque the motor can
safely provide without overheating.
The data sheet for motor M2232U12G specifies a maximum winding temperature of
120°C. Since the ambient temperature is 22°C, a rotor temperature increase of 98°C is tolerable.
The total thermal resistance for the motor is 39°C/Watt. By taking the reciprocal of the thermal
resistance and multiplying this value by the acceptable temperature increase, the maximum
power dissipation in the motor can be calculated:

P = 98°x 1 Watt/39°= 2.51 Watts

Setting I
2
R equal to the maximum power dissipation and solving for I yields the maximum
continuous current allowable in the motor windings:

I
2
R = 2.51 Watts
I = .590 Amps

The motor has a torque constant of 1.86 oz-in/A and a no-load current of 60 mA. Therefore, the
maximum current available to produce useful torque is .530 Amps (.590 - .060), and the
maximum usable torque available (M) is given by:

M = .530 A x 1.86 oz-in/A = .986 oz-in

The maximum allowable current through the motor windings could be increased by
decreasing the thermal resistance of the motor. The rotor-to-case thermal resistance is primarily
fixed by the motor design. The case-to-ambient thermal resistance can be decreased significantly
by the addition of heat sinks. Motor thermal resistances for small DC motors are usually specified
with the motor suspended in free air. Therefore, there is usually some heat sinking which results
from simply mounting the motor into a framework or chassis. Some manufacturers of larger DC
motors specify thermal resistance with the motor mounted into a metal plate of known dimensions
and material.


MicroMo Electronics, Inc.
14881 Evergreen Ave Clearwater, FL 33762-3008
Tel: (727) 572-0131 | Toll Free: (800) 807-9166 | Fax: (727) 572-7763
e-mail: info@micromo.com Web: www.micromo.com
© 2007 MicroMo Electronics, Inc.

The preceding discussion does not take into account the change in resistance of the
copper windings as a result of heating. While this change in resistance is important for larger
machines, it is usually not significant for small motors and is often ignored for the sake of
calculation.

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